By Kenneth Lipp
Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham made her official declaration of candidacy for the 2015 Philadelphia mayoral election Wednesday at noon, at the Franklin Institute’s Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pavilion. Her speech was preceded by a procession of horn-playing Mummers in full regalia followed by ten minutes of brass brand favorites like “When You’re Smiling,” and ending with “Baby Face.” Abraham then entered the auditorium to the Rocky theme.
The candidate was presented to the standing-room-only auditorium by attorney Michael Sklaroff, formerly of the Ballard and Spahr law firm (where former Mayor and Governor Ed Rendell became a partner after leaving officer, there “just because [Lynne Abraham] is my friend,” who remarked on the auspicious venue and occasion, declaring “The Franklin Institute: Philadelphia at its best. Lynne Abraham: Philadelphia at its best.” He painted a grim picture of a Philadelphia under its current government, touting Abraham’s time on the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority under Frank Rizzo, where she was terminated for defying the venerated former mayor’s request to make patronage hires, according to Sklaroff.
“My candidacy, like my life, you could call ‘unconventional” began the former DA, telling the audience of mostly supporters that “we are all here for the same reason. “Politics as usual has failed us,” and promised to bring about “transformational leadership.”
Abraham told of her upbringing as the child of immigrants, a tailor and a butcher “from Europe,” and how, although she gave up her early dream of being a surgeon because of the restrictions on her sex and the limitations of poverty, she fought the odds to become one of two women in her graduating class at Temple Law School. “I embody the American dream,” said Abraham.
Her address focused on the issues of poverty, government ethics, and the state of Philly education system, saying that “the shame of this city is that the school-children are failing.”
She criticized the City Council’s refusal to submit the proposed sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works to a public hearing. Abraham decried “the power of ‘Councilmanic privilege,” saying that with a ‘cleaning of house’ at City Hall, “we can begin to rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix,” under her term as what she said would be a “strong CEO of Philadelphia, Inc.” She called on Philadelphians who wished to turn their city around to “join me in asking ‘why not?'”
Her plan, she stated, would be to first appoint a full time Commerce Director to create jobs in the city. Next, Abraham says, she would within 6 months of being elected establish a commission to study and make recommendations on business tax reform.
In the area of public safety, she said, she will prioritize police training especially on respecting the rights of citizens.
“I’ve known my share of bad police officers, but I’ve also known my share of good ones,” the five-term former District Attorney said.
She would also address the city’s broken department of Licenses and Inspections, calling current measures like the move of its operations under the Fire Department,”cosmetic.”
Abraham also called for the development and implementation of an immigration program, especially to encourage “EB-5 visa-holders,” those in the country under the Immigrant Investor Program, to move to the city.
She proclaimed with a nudge to the audience that under her administration “women’s issues will no longer be an afterthought.” In a “call to a new and higher path,” she again rallied the crowd with the interrogation: “Why not?! Why not?! Why not?!”